Friday, 31 July 2009

The South Essex Regiment and Sharpe

The South Essex Regiment, later the Prince of Wales' Own Volunteers, is a fictional infantry regiment in the British Army that was created by Bernard Cornwell in the Sharpe series of books.
It first appeared in Sharpe's Eagle, commanded by Colonel Sir Henry Simmerson. Sharpe was transferred to the South Essex when his previous regiment, the 95th Rifles, was withdrawn back to England, and made a captain shortly after the battle of Valdelacasa in which the South Essex and the Spanish Regimenta de Santa Maria were badly mauled by French cavalry. In this action, the South Essex lost the King's and the regimental Colours and the Regimenta de Santa Maria lost both of its colours as well. However, Sharpe recaptured the South Essex's regimental Colours and so recovered some honour. Simmerson tried to ruin Sharpe's career (and save himself) by blaming the loss of the Colours on Sharpe.
After Simmerson showed ill judgement and cowardice at the Battle of Talavera (where Sharpe captured a French Imperial Eagle, which then went on to be displayed on the regiment's Colours), Colonel William Lawford, an old friend of Sharpe's, took command. Lawford was wounded soon after and the South Essex went through a string of colonels.

Prince of Wales

In Sharpe's Regiment, the South Essex is renamed the Prince of Wales' Own Volunteers (in reality, the Prince of Wales' Volunteers was (or is) the South Lancashire Regiment). When the regiment returns to Spain it is commanded by Colonel Bartholomew Girdwood, who suffers a breakdown during an attack into French soil. Sharpe leaves the regiment soon after, and Colonel Joseph Ford takes command. The regiment does not appear again until the Battle of Waterloo, where Sharpe and Sergeant Patrick Harper save the regiment from the advance of Napoleon's Old Guard at the end of the battle, where Sharpe is finally given command of the regiment by the Duke of Wellington.

Battle honours
This is a rough list of battle honours that it is likely the regiment would have gained during the Sharpe Series:

Talavera, 1809,
40th foot at Talavera

Busaco, 1810,

Ciudad Rodrigo, 1812,

Siege Badajoz, 1812,

Salamanca, 1812,

Vittoria, 1813,

Pyrenees, 1813,

Toulouse, 1814,

Peninsula, 1808-1814,
Charge of the Mamelucos

Waterloo, 1815. Wellington

The regiment's fate after Waterloo is unknown.
It is likely to have been disbanded due to its high regimental number (this is stated in the Sharpe Companion) but it could have been merged with the 44th Regiment of Foot or the East Essex which lost many men at Quatre Bras. In the latter case it would have become the Essex Regiment under the Cardwell Reforms and the battalion carrying its traditions would have been disbanded and the honours continued. This is of course speculation, but there are several similarities between the East and South Essex - both captured French Imperial Eagles, both have yellow coat facings, and they share a county designation.

Regimental Colonels

General Sir Thomas Picton

This is a rough list of the colonels of the regiment described in the books and the period they served as colonel. There are gaps where colonels are not known in the books. The Prince Regent, later George IV was the colonel in chief and added his patronage in 1813. Sir Henry Simmerson (1809) was the first Colonel, raised the regiment and led it on its first campaign. Relieved from command by the next colonel, William Lawford (1809-1812) who commanded the regiment during the Portugal campaign before being wounded at Ciudad Rodrigo. The regiment would then be commanded by a former staff officer of General Sir Thomas Picton, Colonel Windham from the siege and storming of Badajoz until his death shortly before the Battle of Salamanca (1812). It is then commanded by the American expatriate Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Leroy until his death at the Battle of Vitoria (1813). Lieutenant Colonel Bartholomew Girdwood would then assume command of the now renamed Prince of Wales Own Volunteers until his mental breakdown at the Battle of the Nivelle (1813). Sharpe would be in effective command until the French capitulation at the Battle of Toulouse (1814). The regiment is reformed after Napoleon's escape from Elba and the resumption of hostilities and is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Ford until his mental collapse under fire at Waterloo, where Wellington gives command of the regiment to Sharpe where they assist in defeating the Old Guard.

List of fictional British regiments
The following is a list of British and Empire regiments that have appeared in various works of fiction.
British Regiments
Regiments 3rd Foot and Mouth Regiment
("The Devils in Skirts") (A Highland Regiment mentioned in Carry On up the Khyber 1968 film. 3rd Regular Army Deserters, 3rd Disgusting Fusiliers, 3rd Armoured Thunderboxes, and 3rd Mounted NAAFI are examples of the regiments that Major Bloodnok (played by Peter Sellers of The Goon Show) claimed to have served with. 6th Light Dragoons (A Close Run Thing by Allan Mallinson) 27th Lancers (The Charge of the Light Brigade 1936 film) - later a real regiment 114th Queen's Own Royal Strathspeys [The James Ogilvie books] by Philip McCutchan aka Duncan MacNeil {Also repeated below} 117th Foot ("The Royal Mallows") (An Irish regiment mentioned in The Adventure of the Crooked Man and The Green Flag by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A real regiment that only existed from 1761 to 1796, sans nickname}.

Named regiments
The Bedford Light Infantry (Red Cap BBC-1 TV series 2001-2004) The Black Boneens A rival Irish regiment mentioned in "The Mutiny of the Mavericks" by Rudyard Kipling. The Black Tyrone An Irish regiment serving in India mentioned in "The Ballad of Boh da Thone" by Rudyard Kipling. Bombardier Guards (The Book of Snobs by William Makepeace Thackeray; Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh) Caledonian Highlanders (Bonnie Scotland 1935 film {Laurel and Hardy}) The Cumbrians (Duke of Rutland's Own) (Soldier Soldier TV series 1991-1997) The Derbyshire Regiment (Red Cap BBC-1 TV Series 2001-2004) The Dragons (Heathercrest National Service Depot) Regiment (Carry On Sergeant 1958 film {Carry On films}) Duke of Buckingham's Light Infantry ("The Sky Blues") (Gideon's Sword Bearers by John Mackenzie (author)) Duke of Clarence's Own Clanranald Highlanders ("The Inverness-shire Greens") (The Monarch of the Glen by Compton Mackenzie) The Duke of Glendon's Light Infantry (The 'Dogs') (The Way Ahead 1944 Film) The Fore and Fit Princess Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen-Anspach’s Merther-Tydfilshire Own Royal Loyal Light Infantry, Regimental District 329A ("The Fore and Aft" Regiment) ("Drums of the Fore and Aft" by Rudyard Kipling) King's Own Fusiliers (Soldier Soldier TV series 1991-1997) Lennox Highlanders (Richard Hannay's regiment in the works of John Buchan) Jackboot Guards (The Book of Snobs by William Makepeace Thackeray) Life Guards Greens (various novels by William Makepeace Thackeray) The nickname of the short-lived Horse-Grenadier Troops of the Life Guards. Light Armoured Brigade (Thursday Next novels by Jasper Fforde) Loamshire Regiment (Bulldog Drummond by "Sapper") Royal Loamshire Regiment (A fictitious regiment used in British Army texts and manuals as an example.) 1st Battalion, The Loamshire Regiment (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp 1943 film) 5th Battalion, The Loamshire Regiment (Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh) Lord Sempill’s Highland Regiment (A unit that mutinied mentioned in Gideon's Swordbearers by John Mackenzie) The Malvern Regiment (Soldier Soldier TV series 1991-1997) Northdale Rifles (The Mark of Cain 2007 TV film) Queen's Own McKamikaze Highlanders (Monty Python's Flying Circus TV comedy series) 114th Queen's Own Royal Strathspeys [The James Ogilvie books] by Philip McCutchan aka Duncan MacNeil {ALso repeated above} Queen's Own West Mercian Lowlanders (Fairly Secret Army TV comedy series) Royal Cambrian Fusiliers (Red Cap BBC-1 TV Series 2001-2004) Royal Corps of Halberdiers (The Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh) Royal Cumbrian Regiment (The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason) The Royal Loyal Musketeers ("The Mavericks") An Irish regiment mentioned in "Kim" and "The Mutiny of the Mavericks" by Rudyard Kipling Royal North Surrey Regiment {The Four Feathers 1939 Film} Royal Wessex Rangers (Spearhead British TV series 1978-1981) South Essex Regiment/Prince of Wales' Own Volunteers (Richard Sharpe's regiment in the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell) Weald Light Infantry (Now God be Thanked trilogy by John Masters). Wessex Guards (Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford) Wessex Fusiliers (Alms for Oblivion - a series of novels by Simon Raven) Wessex Light Tank Armoured Brigade (The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde) The Wessex Regiment (Red Cap BBC-1 TV Series 2001-2004) West Yorkshire Fusiliers (The Wyffies) Various of Reginald Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe crime novels. The White Hussars "The Rout of the White Hussars" by Rudyard Kipling.

British Empire Regiments
1st Bangalore Pioneers (Colonel Sebastian Moran's old Indian Army regiment in The Adventure of the Empty House by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) 12th Gurkha Rifles (Colonel Arbuthnot's regiment in Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie) 12th Indian Lancers (Major Duncan Bleek's regiment in Terror by Night 1946 film {Sherlock Holmes}). 19th/45th East African Rifles (Captain Blackadder's old colonial regiment before the war in Blackadder Goes Forth) 34th Bombay Infantry (Major John Sholto's regiment in The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) 77th Bengal Lancers (Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers American TV show 1956-1957).
Special Operations Units
Internal Counter-Intelligence Service UNIT audio dramas by Big Finish set in the (Doctor Who) universe. U.N.I.T. (Doctor Who) Red Troop, 22nd Special Air Service Regiment (Ultimate Force TV series 2002-2006)


Berkshire (pronounced /ˈbɑrkʃər/ BARK-shər or /ˈbɑrkʃɪər/ BARK-sheer; abbreviated Berks) is a county in the South East of England. It is also often referred to as the Royal County of Berkshire because of the presence of the royal residence of Windsor Castle in the county; this usage, which dates to the 19th century at least, was recognised by the Queen in 1958, and Letters patent issued confirming this in 1974.
Berkshire borders the counties of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Wiltshire and Hampshire, and is usually regarded as one of the home counties. Under boundary changes in 1995, it also acquired a boundary with Greater London.
Historically the county town was Abingdon, but in 1867 the, by then much larger, town of Reading superseded Abingdon in this role. In 1974 local government reoganisation moved Abingdon and several other north-west Berkshire towns into Oxfordshire.

A later reorganisation, in 1998, abolished Berkshire County Council, although retaining Berkshire as a ceremonial county. The highest tier of local government in Berkshire are now the unitary authorities of:

Bracknell Forest,
West Berkshire,
Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham

1. West Berkshire (Unitary)
2. Reading (Unitary)
3. Wokingham (Unitary)
4. Bracknell Forest (Unitary)
5, Windsor and Maidenhead (Unitary)
6. Slough (Unitary)

Anglo-Saxon chronicles

The county is one of the oldest in England. It may date from the 840s, the probable period of the unification of "Sunningum" (East Berkshire) and "Ashdown" (the Berkshire Downs, probably including the Kennet Valley). The county is first mentioned by name in 860. According to Asser, it takes its name from a large forest of box trees that was called Bearroc (believed, in turn, to be a Celtic word meaning "hilly").
Berkshire has been the scene of many battles throughout history, during Alfred the Great's campaign against the Danes, including the Battle of Englefield, the Battle of Ashdown and the Battle of Reading. During the English Civil War there were two battles in Newbury. During the Glorious Revolution of 1688, there was a second Battle at Reading, also known as the "Battle of Broad Street".
Reading became the new county town in 1867, taking over from Abingdon which remained in the county. Under the Local Government Act 1888, Berkshire County Council took over functions of the Berkshire Quarter Sessions, covering an area known as the administrative county of Berkshire, which excluded the county borough of Reading. Boundary alterations in the early part of the 20th century were minor, with Caversham from Oxfordshire becoming part of the Reading county borough, and cessions in the Oxford area.
On 1 April 1974, following the Local Government Act 1972, the northern part of the county became part of Oxfordshire, with Faringdon, Wantage and Abingdon and hinterland becoming the Vale of White Horse district, and Didcot and Wallingford going to form part of the South Oxfordshire district. The Berkshire Yeomanry (94 Signal Squadron) still keep the Uffington White Horse as their symbol above the motto Berkshire, even though the White Horse is now in Oxfordshire. Berkshire obtained the towns of Slough and Eton and part of the former Eton Rural District from Buckinghamshire. The original Local Government White Paper would have transferred Henley-on-Thames from Oxfordshire to Berkshire: this proposal did not make it into the Bill as introduced.

Detailed 17th-century mapp of Barkshire by Wenceslas Hollar

On 1 April 1998 Berkshire County Council was abolished under a recommendation of the Banham Commission, and the districts became unitary authorities. Unlike similar reforms elsewhere at the same time, the non-metropolitan county was not abolished. Signs saying "Welcome to the Royal County of Berkshire" have all but disappeared but may still be seen on the borders of West Berkshire District, on the east side of Virginia Water, and on the M4 motorway.

A number of distinctive cheeses are produced in Berkshire, including Wigmore, Barkham Blue and Waterloo cheeses.
Geology, landscape and ecology
From a landscape perspective, Berkshire divides into two clearly distinct sections with the boundary lying roughly on a north-south line through the centre of Reading.
The eastern section of Berkshire lies largely to the south of the River Thames, with that river forming the northern boundary of the county. In two places (Slough and Reading) the county now includes land to the north of the river. Tributaries of the Thames, including the Loddon and Blackwater increase the amount of low lying riverine land in the area. Beyond the flood plains, the land rises gently to the county boundaries with Surrey and Hampshire. Much of this area is still well wooded, especially around Bracknell and Windsor Great Park.
Long Walk, Windsor Great Park
In the west of the county and heading upstream, the Thames veers away to the north of the (current) county boundary, leaving the county behind at the Goring Gap. This is a narrow part of the otherwise quite broad river valley where, at the end of the last Ice Age, the Thames forced its way between the Chiltern Hills (to the north of the river in Oxfordshire) and the Berkshire Downs.
As a consequence, the western portion of the county is situated around the valley of the River Kennet, which joins the Thames in Reading. Fairly steep slopes on each side delineate the river's flat floodplain. To the south, the land rises steeply to the nearby county boundary with Hampshire, and the highest parts of the county lie here. The highest of these is Walbury Hill at 297 m (974 ft), which is also the highest point in South East England.
To the north of the Kennet, the land rises again to the Berkshire Downs. This is a hilly area, with smaller and well-wooded valleys draining into the River Lambourn, River Pang and their tributaries, and open upland areas famous for their involvement in horse racing and the consequent ever-present training gallops.
As part of a 2002 marketing campaign, the plant conservation charity Plant life chose the Summer Snowflake as the county flower.

Reading /Readingum: Place in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series

Reading (pronounced /ˈrɛdɪŋ/ ( listen) (RED-ing)) is a large town in England, located at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, midway between London and Swindon off the M4 motorway. It is one of the contenders for the title of the largest town in England, and is the largest settlement in the home counties in terms of population. For ceremonial purposes it is in the Royal County of Berkshire and has served as the county town since 1867. It is also home to one of England's biggest music festivals.
Reading was an important national centre in the medieval period, as the site of an important monastery with strong royal connections, but suffered economic damage during the 17th century from which it took a long time to recover. Today it is again an important commercial centre, with strong links to information technology and insurance. It is also a university town, with two universities and a large student population.

St Mary's church was founded by the 9th century.

The settlement was founded at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet in the 8th century as Readingum. The name probably comes from the Readingas, an Anglo-Saxon tribe whose name means "Reada's People" in Old English, or (less probably) the Celtic Rhydd-Inge, "Ford over the River". The name of the settlement was derived from an earlier folk, or tribal, name. Anglo-Saxon names ending in -ingas originally referred not to a place but to a people, in this case specifically the descendants or followers of a man named Reada, literally "The Red One."
In late 870 an army of Danes invaded the then kingdom of Wessex and set up camp at Reading. On 4 January 871, the first Battle of Reading took place, when an army lead by King Ethelred and his brother Alfred the Great attempted unsuccessfully to breach the Dane's defences. The battle is described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and this account provides the earliest known written record of the existence of the town of Reading. The Danes remained in Reading until late in 871, when they retreated to winter quarters in London.
By the time of its 1086 Domesday Book listing, the town had grown to contain around 600 people and be made a designated borough.

Time of the Abbey

Reading Abbey was founded in 1121.

The foundation of Reading Abbey by Henry I in 1121 led to the town becoming a place of pilgrimage. Already acknowledged as a borough by this time, the relationship between the town's burgesses and the Abbey was to prove strained at times.
In 1253 Reading's Merchant Guild successfully petitioned for the grant of a charter from the King and negotiated a division of authority with the Abbey. However disputes continued over the Abbey's powers to raise taxes and appoint the Guild's officers. Even the title of the Guild's first officer was open to dispute, with the Guild and, on occasion, the King referring to him as the Mayor, whilst the Abbey continued to call him the Guild Warden.

During the Black Death in the 14th century the ruling elite fled from London to Reading, effectively using Reading as the capital while London was gripped by the Plague.
In 1487, Henry VII granted a further charter that went further than previous charters, although still leaving the appointment of the Mayor/Warden in the hands of the Abbey. This charter, and a subsequent judicial arbitration in 1499, confirmed the Guild as a body corporate in perpetuity. The dissolution of the Abbey in 1538 initially saw the Mayor appointed by the King's officers administering the dismemberment of the abbey properties. However in 1542 Henry VIII granted the Guild a new charter that permitted the burgesses to elect the Mayor.

17th century

Sir John Kendrick

By the end of the 16th century, Reading was the largest town in Berkshire, home to over 3,000 people. Reading had grown rich on its trade in cloth, as instanced by the fortune made by local merchant John Kendrick.
The town played an important role during the English Civil War; it changed hands a number of times. Despite its fortifications, it had a Royalist garrison imposed on it in 1642. The subsequent Siege of Reading by the Parliamentary forces succeeded in April 1643. However, the taxes levied on the town by the garrison badly damaged its cloth trade, and it did not recover.
Reading was also the only site of significant fighting in England during the Revolution of 1688, with the second Battle of Reading.

18th century

Henry Addington, Viscount Sidmouth

The 18th century saw the beginning of a major iron works in the town and the growth of the brewing trade for which Reading was to become famous. Agricultural products from the surrounding area still used Reading as a market place, especially at the famous Reading cheese fair but now trade was coming in from a wider area.
Reading's trade benefited from better designed turnpike roads which helped it establish its location on the major coaching routes from London to Oxford and the west country. It also gained from increasing river traffic on both the Thames and Kennet. In 1723, despite considerable local opposition, the Kennet Navigation opened the River Kennet to boats as far as Newbury. This opposition stopped when it became apparent the new route benefited the town. The opening of the Kennet and Avon Canal in 1810 made it possible to go by barge from Reading to the Bristol Channel.
Towards the end of the century, Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, lived at Bulmershe Court, in what is now the Reading suburb of Woodley. Although he moved to Richmond when he was appointed prime minister, he retained his local connections. He donated to the town of Reading the four acres (16,000 m²) of land that is today the Royal Berkshire Hospital, and his name is commemorated in the town's Sidmouth Street and Addington Road.

19th century

The Maiwand lion in Forbury Gardens, an unofficial symbol of Reading, commemorates the Battle of Maiwand in 1880.

In 1801, the population of Reading was about 9,400. During the 19th century, Reading grew rapidly as a manufacturing centre. Reading maintained its representation by two Members of Parliament with the Reform Act 1832, and the borough was one of the ones reformed as a municipal borough by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. In 1836 the Reading Borough Police were founded. The Great Western Railway arrived in 1841, followed by the South Eastern Railway, in 1849, and the London and South Western Railway, in 1856. The Reading Establishment, an early commercial photographic studio, operated in Reading from 1844 to 1847 and was managed by Nicholaas Henneman, a Dutchman and former valet of William Henry Fox Talbot (a pioneer of photography). Many of the images for The Pencil of Nature by Fox Talbot, the first book to be illustrated with photographic prints, were printed in Reading.
In 1851 the population was 21,500. The town became the County Town (superseding Abingdon) in 1867 and became a county borough under the Local Government Act 1888. By 1900, the population was 59,000 — large sections of the housing in Reading are terraced, reflecting its 19th century growth. The town has been famous for the "Three Bs" of beer (from 1785 dominated by the Simonds' Brewery — India Pale Ale was invented in Reading), bulbs (1807–1976, Suttons Seeds), and biscuits (1822–1977, Huntley & Palmers). In the 19th century the town also made 'Reading Sauce', described as a sharp sauce flavoured with onions, spices, and herbs, very much like Worcestershire Sauce.

20th and 21st centuries

A trolleybus at the Three Tuns terminus, c.1966. The Three Tuns is now the terminus for the number 17 bus

The town continued to expand in the 20th century, annexing Caversham across the River Thames in Oxfordshire in 1911. This expansion can be seen in the number of 1920s built semi-detached properties, and the 1950s expansion that joined Woodley, Earley and Tilehurst into Reading. Miles Aircraft in Woodley was an important local firm from the 1930s to 1950s. The Lower Earley development, started in the 1970s, was the largest private housing development in Europe. This extended the urban area of Reading up to the M4 motorway, which acts as the southern boundary to the town. Further housing developments have increased the number of modern commuter houses in the surrounding parts of Reading, and 'out-of-town' shopping hypermarkets.
At the end of 1966 the Yield Hall multi-storey car park was opened, providing covered space for 522 cars. It was noted that the ramps were arranged to segregate up-traffic from down-traffic, with "one-way circulation" through most of the building.
The local shopping centre, The Oracle, built in 1999, is named after the 17th century workhouse founded by John Kendrick which previously occupied the site. It provides three storeys of shopping and boosted the local economy by providing 4,000 jobs. Reading has also made itself more appealing to tourists by pedestrianising Broad Street.


Uffington White Horse part of the Berkshire Downs

Reading is 41 miles (66 km) due west of central London, 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Oxford and 40 miles (64 km) east of Swindon. The centre of Reading is on a low ridge between the Rivers Thames and Kennet close to their confluence, reflecting the town's history as a river port. Just before the confluence, the Kennet cuts through a narrow steep-sided gap in the hills forming the southern flank of the Thames flood plain. The absence of a floodplain on the Kennet in this defile enabled the development of wharves.
River Kennet

As Reading has grown, its suburbs have spread in three directions:
to the west between the two rivers into the foothills of the Berkshire Downs, to the south and south-east on the south side of the Kennet, and to the north of the Thames into the Chiltern Hills.

Chiltern Hills

However outside the central area, the floors of the valley containing the two rivers remain largely unimproved floodplain, subject to occasional flooding. Apart from one road across the Kennet floodplain, and the M4 looping to the south, the only routes between the three built-up areas are in the central area, creating road congestion there.
Reading has its own subregional catchment area, incorporating the suburban districts of Earley and Woodley and the surrounding towns of Wokingham, Bracknell, Henley-on-Thames and Twyford, plus large villages such as Pangbourne, Theale, Winnersh, Burghfield and Shiplake.

Battle of Englefield

Englefield is a village and civil parish in Berkshire, England, mostly within the bounds of the private walled estate of Englefield House.
The village is situated in the district of West Berkshire, close to Reading. Other nearby places include Bradfield and Theale.
In 870, the village was the site of the Battle of Englefield. This was fought between the Anglo-Saxons, under Æthelwulf, Ealdorman of Berkshire, and the Danes, and resulted in a resounding victory for the Saxons. The battle was the first of a series in the winter of 870-1. The village is thought to be named after the battle: Englefield meaning either "English field" or "warning beacon field".
Englefield House was the home of the Englefield family, supposedly from the time of King Edgar. Sir Thomas Englefield was the Speaker of the House of Commons. In 1559, the house was confiscated from his grandson, Sir Francis Englefield, a servant of the Catholic Queen Mary, for "consorting with [the] enemies" of the new Protestant monarch, Elizabeth I. The family later lived at Whiteknights Park in Earley and continued to be buried in Englefield parish church until 1822.
Popular local tradition insists that the Queen granted Englefield to her spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, although there is no evidence of this. After a succession of short-lived residents, the estate was eventually purchased by John Paulet, 5th Marquess of Winchester, famous for his Civil War defence of Basing House in Hampshire. He retired to Englefield at the Restoration and is buried in the parish church. From his Paulet descendants, the house passed, through marriage, to the Benyon family.
In the late 19th century, Richard Fellowes Benyon rebuilt the villagers' houses as a model estate village and provided them with such amenities as a swimming pool, soup kitchen and a new school. Many of the Benyons have been Members of Parliament, including the current owners, Sir William, and his son, Richard Benyon.

Battle of Ashdown

The Battle of Ashdown, in Berkshire (possibly the part now in Oxfordshire), took place on 8 January 871. Alfred the Great, then a mere prince of twenty-one, led the West Saxon army of his brother, King Ethelred, in a victorious battle against the invading Danes.
The West Saxons had a slight advantage in numbers (around 800 to 1000 men) and held the high ground. The battle was little more than a great clash of shield walls and resulted in a victory for Alfred. The battle, however, was not decisive. This was a pyrrhic victory, for a great many lives were lost on each side and the Danes were subsequently able to win several victories after receiving reinforcements.
The Danes, full of confidence after successes at Reading and nearby, marched west to attack the Saxons who had retreated up onto the Berkshire Downs to reassemble their armies. Alfred had to act quickly to avoid disaster. The King’s troops had to be mustered from the surrounding countryside without delay. Alfred reputedly took his favourite white mare and rode up onto Blowingstone Hill (near Kingston Lisle), where stood an ancient perforated sarsen stone, called the 'Blowing Stone'. Anyone with the appropriate skill could generate a booming sound from this stone, by blowing into one of its holes. Alfred took a deep breath and blew hard. He did it exactly correctly and a great boom blew out across the Downs. From all over the surrounding country, men were stirred from their beds and they knew it was time to gather and defend their homes.
'Æscesdūn' or Ashdown is generally thought to be an ancient name for the whole of the Berkshire Downs. It is not known exactly where the two armies met, though it was around a lone thorn tree. Thorn Down at Compton, near East Ilsley — meaning Place of Conflict — is therefore a popular contender. Modern investigation suggests a site on the Ridgeway between Aldworth and the Astons.
Victorian theory states that Alfred’s men gathered at the valley-fort now called Alfred's Castle near Ashdown House at Ashbury. Ethelred’s troops had taken up position nearby, at Hardwell Camp, near Compton Beauchamp. The Danes had meanwhile reached Uffington Castle, where they had made their camp. On the morning of 8 January 871, the two sides met where the lone gnarled thorn tree stood; a tree that may earlier have been worshipped by the druids. The armies were drawn up in two columns each. The Danes were commanded by their Kings, Bagsecg and Halfdan Ragnarsson and five Earls. Ethelred and Alfred led the Saxons. There they waited, jeering and shouting at one another. Alfred was keen to get to grips with the enemy, but Ethelred decided to spend the ensuing lull in prayer for victory. He left the battlefield for the little church at Aston (Tirrold or Upthorpe) and, despite Alfred’s insistence, he would not return until the priest had finished! The young Prince had to make a decision: should he wait for his brother or commence the fight alone? The troops were on edge and impatient. The Danes had already deployed in an advantageous position, on the higher ground and to let them take the initiative would be to court disaster. Despite his brother’s absence, Alfred gave the command for his own men to charge.
The Saxons prevailed but not without great carnage on each side. The Danes were chased back eastward, across Berkshire. Thousands of bodies covered the chalky slopes. King Bagsecg and the five Danish Earls perished.
King Bagsecg was reputedly buried in Waylands Smithy; the Earls and other noblemen near Lambourn, at Seven Barrows. These are misguided assertions however and, in fact, Seven Barrows appears to date from the Bronze Age and Waylands Smithy from Neolithic times.

Battle of Reading

The first Battle of Reading was a battle on 4 January 871 at Reading in what is now the English county of Berkshire. It was one of a series of battles, with honours to both sides, that took place following an invasion of the then kingdom of Wessex by an army of Danes. Both battle and campaign are described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and this account provides the earliest known written record of the existence of the town of Reading.
The Danes had established a camp at Reading, defended by the Thames and Kennet rivers on two sides, and by a rampart on the western side. Three days after their arrival, a party of Danes rode out towards nearby Englefield, where a West Saxon force under the command of Æthelwulf, the Ealdorman of the shire, was waiting for them. In the ensuing Battle of Englefield many of the Danes were killed, and the rest driven back to Reading.
Four days later, Æthelwulf had been joined by the main West Saxon army, led by King Ethelred and his brother, Alfred the Great. The entire Saxon force marched on Reading. The assault was directed mainly at a gateway through the ramparts, and fierce and bloody fighting followed, before the attack was repulsed. Among the many dead of both sides was Æthelwulf. The Saxon forces were forced to retreat, allowing the Danes to continue their advance into Wessex.
Following the Battle of Reading, Ethelred and Alfred reformed their army, and a few days later won a famous victory at the Battle of Ashdown, forcing the Danes to retreat to Reading once more. Two weeks later the Danes won the Battle of Basing, and in April Ethelred died, to be succeeded by Alfred. The Danish army remained in Reading until late in 871, when they retreated to winter quarters in London, and much of King Alfred's 28-year reign was taken up with the Danish conflict

Rivers in Berkshire 2

The River Bourne is a river in the English county of Berkshire. It is a tributary of the River Pang and, indirectly, of the River Thames. The Bourne's source is near the village of Chapel Row and it joins the River Pang south of the M4 motorway near the village of Tidmarsh
The northern River Dun (one of two short rivers of that name rising in Wiltshire, England) flows into Berkshire to join the River Kennet.

Dun Mill on the River Dun at Hungerford,1900 and today

The River Dun rises near Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire and flows north-east into Berkshire as a tributary of the River Kennet at Hungerford, ultimately draining to the North Sea via the Thames.
The valley of the Dun has been used as an important transport route through the high chalklands between the London Basin to the east and the Vale of Pewsey to the west. It is the route by which the Kennet and Avon Canal (linking London and Bristol) enters the Thames basin from the Vale of Pewsey, crossing the watershed with the assistance of the Bruce Tunnel and the Crofton Pumping Station. It is also followed by the later main line railway from London to the south-west.

The River Loddon is a river in the English counties of Berkshire and Hampshire. It is a tributary of the River Thames, rising within the urban area of Basingstoke and flowing to meet the Thames near the village of Wargrave. The river has a total length of 28 miles (45 km) and, together with its tributaries, drains an area of 1036 km².

River Loddon at Stratfield Saye House

The River Loddon rises at West Ham Farm in Basingstoke, and in its first mile flows under the Festival Place shopping centre that forms the main part of the central area of that town. The river then passes close by the village of Old Basing and the ruined palace of Basing House. Leaving the environs of Basingstoke behind, the river flows north through open north Hampshire countryside and passes near by the village of Sherfield on Loddon. North of Sherfield the river passes through the ornamental grounds of Stratfield Saye House, the home of the Dukes of Wellington since 1817.

Entering Berkshire, the river passes the village of Swallowfield. Just north of Swallowfield the River Loddon is joined by the River Blackwater which adds substantially to its flow. The river then flows close to the east of the Berkshire suburbs of Earley and Woodley, to the west of Winnersh, and through Dinton Pastures Country Park.

Emm Brook

Shortly after this, near the village of Hurst it is joined by the Emm Brook. The river then flows close to the village of Twyford and is joined by the St Patrick's Stream, a backwater of the River Thames. About a mile further on it flows into the main channel of the Thames, just downstream of Shiplake Lock and close to the village of Wargrave.
Whilst chalk underlies much of the River Loddon's catchment area, it only appears at the surface at either end of the river, near Wargrave and Basingstoke. For the rest of its course the chalk lies beneath the Reading Beds and London Clay.

River Loddon at Sherfield on Loddon

The terrace gravels of the Loddon valley have been extracted in a number of places, including the lakes within Dinton Pastures Country Park
The catchment area of the River Loddon encompasses urban populations in Basingstoke and eastern Reading, whilst the urban areas of Aldershot, Fleet, Camberley and Farnborough all lie within the catchment area of the tributary River Blackwater. As a consequence the Loddon receives treated sewage effluent at nine locations, one just downstream of Basingstoke, a second at Wargrave, and seven indirectly via the Blackwater

The River Pang is a small chalk stream river in the west of the English county of Berkshire, and a tributary of the River Thames.

River Pang at Pangbourne

It runs for approximately 23 kilometres (14 mi) from its source near the village of Compton to its confluence with the Thames in the village of Pangbourne.
The river, and its water voles, are thought to have inspired author Kenneth Grahame's character Ratty and his book The Wind in the Willows.


River Pang in Bradfield

The river's source is normally near the village of Compton. In times of high rainfall it can be traced back to Farnborough, some four miles to the north-east, whilst at other times it may be as far downstream as Hampstead Norreys.
In the village of Compton the Pang is joined by the River Roden, a similar but smaller chalk stream with its source on Roden Downs to the east of the village. At first it flows south from Compton through the village of Hampstead Norreys, before turning east to flow through the villages of Bucklebury, Stanford Dingley and Bradfield.
To the east of Bradfield the Pang is joined by the River Bourne and turns north to flow through the villages of Tidmarsh and Pangbourne, eventually entering the Thames between Whitchurch Lock and Whitchurch Bridge.
The valley of the River Pang between Compton and Bradfield is rather isolated, penetrated only by narrow country lanes. Because of this isolation, the valley has not become the residential commuter area that is much of Berkshire, and is still largely agricultural.

The Pang hosts a large quantity of wildlife, and plays its own part towards being a part of the community, especially within Pangbourne itself. The river has a good head of wild brown trout (Salmo trutta) up to 3/4 lb (350 g) and is populated by grayling (Thymallus thymallus), indicating the general good condition of the water. A concern in this river is the population of American Signal crayfish, which have displaced the native White Clawed Crayfish species. This was illustrated in an episode of Gordon Ramsay's The F-Word.
The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust owns a nature reserve straddling the Pang at Moor Copse, close to the village of Tidmarsh. A 29 ha (72-acre) extension to the nature reserve, in the area that is believed to have inspired Kenneth Grahame's work, was purchased in December 2006.
In August 2007 a coalition of the WWF, the National Trust and the RSPB called on the British government to adopt their blue print for Water. To publicise their campaign they highlighted the dangers to sites well known through literature such as The Lake District (Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons and Beatrix Potter's Mrs Tiggy-Winkle), the North Kent Marshes (Charles Dickens's Great Expectations) and the River Pang.

The Pang's name was formed as a back-formation from the name of Pangbourne; bourne being a form of burn—a stream or small river.

Rivers of Berkshire 1

The Kennet is a river in the south of England, and a tributary of the River Thames. The lower reaches of the river are navigable to river craft and are known as the Kennet Navigation, which, together with the Avon Navigation, the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Thames, links the cities of Bristol and London. The local government district of Kennet in Wiltshire is named after it.

The River Kennet has been assigned as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) from near its sources west of Marlborough down to Woolhampton. This is primarily because it has an extensive range of rare plants and animals that are unique to chalk watercourses.

One of the Kennet's sources is Swallowhead Spring near Silbury Hill in the county of Wiltshire, the other being a collection of tributaries to the North of Avebury near the villages of Uffcott and Broad Hinton which flow south past Avebury and join up with the waters from Swallowhead Springs.
From there the river flows through Marlborough, Hungerford and Newbury before flowing into the Thames on the reach above Sonning Lock at Reading in Berkshire.
The upper reaches of the River Kennet are served by two tributaries. The River Og which flows into the Kennet at Marlborough and the River Dun which enters at Hungerford. The Kennet's principal tributaries below Marlborough are the River Lambourn, the River Enborne and the Foudry Brook. For six miles to the west of, and through, Reading, the Kennet supports a secondary channel, known as the Holy Brook, which formerly powered the water mills of Reading Abbey.

Tyle Mill Lock, Sulhamstead County Lock at Reading, in flood

The River Kennet is navigable from the junction with the Thames at Kennet Mouth near Reading, upstream to Newbury where it joins the Kennet and Avon Canal.
The first mile of the river, from Kennet Mouth to the High Bridge in Reading, has been navigable since at least the thirteenth century, providing wharfage for both the townspeople and Reading Abbey. Originally this short stretch of navigable river was under the control of the Abbey; today it, including Blake's Lock, is administered by the Environment Agency as if it were part of the River Thames.
From High Bridge through to Newbury, the river was made navigable between 1718 and 1723 under the supervision of the engineer John Hore of Newbury. Known as the Kennet Navigation, this stretch of the river is now administered by British Waterways as part of the Kennet and Avon Canal. Throughout the navigation, stretches of natural riverbed alternate with 11 miles of artificially created lock cuts, and a series of locks including; County, Fobney, Southcote, Burghfield, Garston, Sheffield, Sulhamstead and Tyle Mill overcome a rise of 130 feet.

County Lock

It was formerly known as the "Cunnit". Local historian Michael Dames claims the name is related to the word "cunt", though it is more likely derived from the nearby Roman settlement of Cunetio (now Mildenhall).
Following this idea it may be related with the "cynetes" a very ancient people.

River Lambourn at Weston

The River Lambourn is a chalk stream in the English county of Berkshire. It rises in the Berkshire Downs near its namesake village of Lambourn and is a tributary of the River Kennet. The upper reaches of the river are seasonal, with a perennial source derived from a number of springs located upstream of the village of Great Shefford. At times when the water table in the chalk aquifer feeding the river is high (usually between November and March) the source of the river migrates upstream. Along the winterbourne section of the river are located the villages of Eastbury and East Garston, while along the perennial section of the river are the villages of Great Shefford, Welford, Boxford, Bagnor, Donnington and Shaw. Below Shaw is the confluence of the River Lambourn with the River Kennet, located between Newbury and Thatcham. The River Lambourn itself has a single perennial tributary, the Winterbourne Stream, which joins it at the village of Bagnor.

Lambourn Valley Way
The Lambourn Valley Way from the Uffington White Horse to Newbury generally follows the River Lambourn from Lambourn to Donnington Castle, in many places using the embankments of the old Lambourn Valley Railway.

Upper Lambourn and Lynch Wood

Spring feeding the Lambourn River

Lambourn in Lynch Wood
The highest source of the Lambourn is on the Maddle Road in the village of Upper Lambourn, near the Wiltshire and Oxfordshire borders. It emerges from a rainwater drain and occasionally flows down a channel between the road and pavement. In the village it runs underground in a pipe until re-emerging alongside the road opposite The Malt Shovel and along Malt Shovel Lane. At this point it is usually little more than a damp, muddy ditch, and remains so until halfway through Lynch Wood. Here it is fed by several springs, two of which are close to the Goose Green road, forming a short stream that runs ten feet downhill into the river. These springs quickly fill the channel and the river swells ten to twenty feet wide and over three feet deep, submerging several fallen trees. Although winterbourne until Great Shefford the river has not been dry below Lynch Wood since 2006.

Lambourn to Thatcham

River Lambourn leaving Lynch Wood

River Lambourn leaving Lambourn

Bernard's Ford, Eastbury

The River Lambourn in Eastbury.

The river leaves the wood and enters Lambourn under a bridge crossed by the Goose Green Road, here it flows more quickly as the channel narrows to four to six feet across and six to eight inches deep. It is constricted by the houses built on the riverbank, which were partily flooded in July 2007 as the numerous weeds clogged river under the many small bridges (and even one garden shed) built over it. It passes by The Lamb and the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service and runs between the houses on the south side of the Newbury Road and the playing fields to the north of Bockhampton Road. There is a ford next to the Bockhampton Road bridge which is used by horses (and accidentally by a car in March 2009, which had to be pulled out) and the river leaves the town through Bockhampton Manor Farm. Bernard's Ford is found to the west of Eastbury, which is also suitable only for tractors and horses. Here the Lambourn forced its banks in July 2007 and flowed down the Newbury Road for over a hundred yards before rejoining the river. The Lambourn runs through the middle of Eastbury, and past The Plough Inn, which holds The Great Eastbury Duck Race on the river in May.

In East Garston there are many houses are built on one bank with their own bridges from the front door to the road opposite. The river splits into several channels at Great Shefford, and is joined by many small streams, which join as it leaves the village under the A338 Swan Bridge and behind The Swan. From Lambourn to Newbury the river remains roughly parallel to the Newbury Road (which becomes the Lambourn Road) which crosses it many times. In Newbury it runs between Donnington and Speen and south of Shaw House until it joins the River Kennet to the south of the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre. The River Kennet joins the River Thames at Reading.

Flow regime

Bridges over the River Lambourn in East Garston.

The River Lambourn is almost unique for a chalk stream in southern England in that its flow regime remains near-natural in form; not being significantly modified by groundwater abstraction. Ironically, this situation developed because of a major groundwater abstraction project. In the 1960s the long term water supply situation for London was regarded as vulnerable and one avenue investigated to rectify this was to use untapped water resources naturally stored in the chalk aquifer of low population density areas of south east England. One such area was the West Berkshire Downs, including the catchment of the River Lambourn. The plan was to abstract groundwater from the chalk aquifer during times of drought and then use the existing river system as a natural conduit to transport the water to London, via the River Kennet and the River Thames.
An area in the catchment of the River Lambourn was selected as a pilot study to assess the feasibility of the project, and the Lambourn Valley Pilot Scheme was undertaken between 1967 and 1970. The final conclusion from the pilot study was that the overall scheme appeared feasible and a significant number of large abstraction boreholes and observation boreholes, together with pipelines and control equipment, were installed in the Lambourn catchment and also in other nearby river catchments. The project, named the Thames Groundwater Scheme, was completed in 1976 to coincide with the most serious drought in 50 years, but on final testing of the scheme it was found that the effective increase in river flow downstream was minimal, and essentially the project was a failure.
Almost all of the infrastructure for the project (now known as the West Berkshire Groundwater Scheme) is still in place and maintained, albeit on a rather shoestring budget. But the lasting legacy of the scheme is that the catchment has been preserved as a near-natural groundwater system, almost totally unaffected by groundwater abstractions. This factor made it an ideal candidate for selection as one of the flagship research sites for the NERC LOCAR research project investigating permeable catchments.